Balloon animals made out of sausages, a letter to the Nike president that went viral, and a basket of rebranded Sun-Maid raisins. Welcome to the Cream exhibition, the annual competition held by The Talent Business to showcase the best emerging creative talent.
The show, this year hosted by BBH, was a bit like a trade show for young creative teams with 20 stands of print work, photo albums, portfolios and iPads all manned by the enthusiastic Cream finalists.
It was energising to meet so many talented, energetic people who have chosen to join our industry.
We try to always have a couple of placement teams in at WCRS, and looking at the Cream ideas, I was reminded of two factors that make young teams stand out as future stars when they present work.
The first is an ability to write for an audience you’re not part of. If you’re a 22-year-old bloke just out of Watford [College] it’s easy to write ads for Nike and iTunes, but much more challenging to think like a 40-year-old mum.
The best young teams have great empathy for audiences outside their own experience, which is invaluable for agencies as the team can then crack a variety of briefs and need not be confined to "the trendy stuff".
This also means flexing tone of voice according to the brief and not having an entire book that could be described as "Viz does advertising".
On this note, Harriet and John had some refreshingly grown-up posters for Evans Cycles.
Second, if you’re going to venture into the world of technology, apps or experiential ideas to demonstrate that you can think beyond conventional advertising, you’d better have at least some understanding of how the world works.
Too many ideas from young teams fail the naivety test and colleges seem to be doing them a disservice by ignoring this side of the role.
Painting the wheels of all the Boris bikes with blue paint to generate a trail of blue branding all around London is certainly a crazy idea, but not in a good way.
This is an extreme example (and not from last night) but after seeing many ideas that felt equally un-doable, Ben and Kendal’s PG Tips "meet your neighbours" mailer felt like a no-brainer.
So if I was designing a college course to produce the next generation of Cream, I’d have a term in which they spent half the time generating ideas and presenting to the whole group, and half the time shooting as many holes as possible in each other’s ideas before collectively moulding and shaping them to have real potential.
Brutal perhaps, but just an early taste of what lies ahead.